Friday, April 19, 2013

We Need to Keep Our Morals in Check as South Africans

Cyril Skosana

Living under such conditions can make some people lose their morals.
If confronted, I’d agree with you that it’s a clich├ęd question that has trended on social networks and is widely been asked by elders and politicians but it’s one that is surprisingly overlooked by the youth in post-apartheid South Africa. Perhaps the reason is that there haven’t been well-grounded responses to it. There have been projects to try and solve this issue and even before he became president, Jacob Zuma, headed a project that was to try and answer a few questions around this issue. Those questions were never answered and instead people stayed questioning those in power.

This piece is based on three of the many fundamental basis of life; morals, respect and principles. “Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners” once wrote Laurence Sterne, Irish-born English Novelist and an Anglican clergyman. Laurence briefly summarised this piece, noting the importance of respect, morals and principles, and also illustrates how these three key factors interplay in guaranteeing a peaceful life.
A severe lack of the above mentioned key factors in South African communities have surfaced in an unpleasant manner and gives an atrocious picture of this country. Violence against women and children, rape, crime and general violence presented respect and morals deficiency among the citizen. 

In many communities people lose their morals, self-respect and that of others because of unemployment and a lack of education. Sometimes it becomes difficult for a person with a hungry stomach to worry about how they are perceived by the rest of the community and how they are treated by other people. South Africa – thought media, government and the private sector - has also created a need for material things where a government job is known to offer one a luxury car. Others in the township would see this and fight by all means to own such cars and wear the fancy clothes they would see others wearing. A loss of such morals and respect can also lead to criminal activities.

But there are also those who are not fighting for food or shelter, those that were born rich and managed to build more wealth through the money they inherited. Newspapers would report about white owned companies that are resisting Employment Equity laws with some tricking domestic workers at home to signing documents so they can front as partners in such companies, the worker wouldn’t make a single cent from any deal the company gets into. The morals of those white bosses who are not poor, some who come from families that built their wealth through decades or centuries of cheap black labour. They don’t need an extra cent and yet they fight against laws that will assist in correcting some of inequalities created by their forefathers. 

It’s not all the citizens of this country who are perpetuators of such acts. Nevertheless, what about us who witness these incidents and say nothing? To the perpetuators, what happened to their self-respect, respect to others, morals and values and principles. Have we lost our humanity? 

Recently there was a story in the media about how Oscar Pistorius shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, several times. The courts are now trying to figure out whether Pistorius really thought his model girlfriend was a burglar who was intruding in his home or whether he meant to kill her. This was in a rich Pretoria suburb and one wonders where the neighbours were when they heard the first gunshot. Did none of them hear a screaming voice of a woman so they could run there and try and help out. When those that did nothing think about it, what goes through their minds and are they happy with their morals that told them to do nothing on that Valentine’s Day morning. 

It’s time we ask ourselves. What do we stand for as citizens of this country, apart from political stances, race debates, inequality, unemployment and so on? This is more than about politics and earthly riches. This is about our humanity. It’s about respecting those around us, protecting them, regardless of their race, social-class or religion.

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